No matter my role….Sales Director, Account Executive, Business Development, Sales Mentor…….my selling of security technology (hardware, software, and services) boils down to hard work. Honing one’s craft, if you will.
I’ve done it door-to-door (starting at age 8! – and again later in life). I’ve done it with cold phone calls – residential, commercial, and at the enterprise level. I’ve done it walking through factories, jails, chemical plants, hospitals, schools, utilities, hotels and more. I’ve presented to Executives, Architects, Consultants, IT Departments, Facilities, Law Enforcement, and every flavor of Security Professional you can imagine.
The hard work has largely been self-imposed – always swearing I would have depth professionally. I mean, think of the one-dimensional salespeople you’ve encountered in life:
- the “hard sell” at all costs guy.
- the drippingly sweet and insincere saleswoman.
- the “Happy Hour” seller where every sale is a good time.
- the Brainiac sales engineer who rattles off “petaflop” in his first sentence.
- and the list drags on……….we’ve all experienced these folks.
The “hard work” that makes up my multi-dimensional approach to sales is not complex. There are 4 steps. I work to Educate, Develop, Advise, and Sell.
Educate – I Know my products/solutions well. Operationally, technically, strategically, and financially. I know my competitors products/solutions nearly as well. I use this knowledge to educate the prospective customer.
Develop – When I create an opportunity to engage with a prospective customer, I make it count. I Learn about them, their role, their business, their pressures, motivations, and perspectives. At this step, it’s 80% them, 20% me – if that.
Advise – I use what I learn about their business, operations, risks, culture and tie it together with what I know about security technology, sharing (educating) how my solution “A” may help them address their operational issue “B.” It’s a conversational/relational approach – not a lecturing/know-it-all approach all of us have experienced in our own encounters with some in sales.
Sell – Only after the previous steps and efforts am I ready to work toward a sale, fine-tuning solutions to what I now know about the situation of the prospective customer. This step requires identifying action items that move the process to closure and the eventual booking of a sale!
I’ve greatly simplified the explanation of the 4 steps. There are, of course, nuances and specifics to keep in mind – including the realization that this is not a “one call close” and also that these steps repeat themselves multiple times throughout the sales opportunity.
While not a formula – nor a checklist – I rather see the 4 steps as a strategic process which provides a solid framework for sales success. My one-dimensional sales competitors may not agree, yet I am confident these 4 steps have crushed their approach – evidenced by mountains of sales “wins” for myself and sales teams whom I have lead using these steps.
My 4 steps are just that – “my” steps. Not pulled from some sales guru, book, sales fad, blog, or conference. I find very little original thought/process in the real world of sales, with so much regurgitated, syndicated, shared, and “liked” content that it is often hard to sort the genuine from the fluff.
My steps have worked for me and teams I’ve developed and lead. What has worked for you?